So what’s the experience like on the move? Very different to that served up by obvious rivals is the answer. They’re nearly all turbocharged, as well as being lighter and more agile, meaning that GS F users must sacrifice a little when it comes to agility and outright speed. In return though, this Lexus serves up the kind of aural firework display that Teutonic rivals can only dream about, aided here by an ‘Active Sound Control’ system that emphasises the majestic exhaust note. With 471bhp on tap from the 5. 0-litre 32-valve twin-overhead camshaft V8, 62mph flashes by in just 4. 6s on the way to a top speed that would register at 168mph, were you to find yourself on a deserted stretch of de-restricted autobahn.
In truth, it’s the autobahn rather than an autodrome that represents this car’s real comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean it can’t really reward you when the road gets twisty. The ‘Drive Mode Select’ vehicle dynamics system offers ‘Sport S’ and ‘Sport S+’ modes that quicken throttle response, firm up steering feel and speed up the ratio changes of the eight-speed Sports Direct Shift auto transmission. In the ‘Sport S+’ ‘Drive Mode Select’ setting, you’ve also the option of altering the response of the GS F’s stability and traction system’s via the ‘Sport’ and ‘Expert’ settings provided by the ‘Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management’ system. Plus to help through the corners, there’s a TVD ‘Torque Vectoring Differential’ that more precisely controls power distribution between the rear wheels and can be tweaked via ‘STANDARD’, ‘SLALOM’ or ‘TRACK’ settings. Lots to play with then, in a car that allows even less experienced folk to feel confident in exploring its potential.
You don’t look at this GS F and think ‘street racer’ in the way that you might with, say, a BMW M3 or a Mercedes C63. This Lexus has a demeanour a little above that sort of thing, yet it retains a very extrovert, purposeful and dynamic streetside presence thanks to the small but significant changes made over the standard GS model.
Inside, the more mature theme continues. At the wheel of an M3 or a C63, you can never quite forget that you’re in a relatively inexpensive car that’s been heavily optioned-up. A GS F, in contrast, feels a more expensive, exclusive product, albeit one more suited to the boardroom than Brands Hatch. It's not ostentatious and some of the materials are quite varied, but it looks unique, cultured and clever, with the ambience dominated by the kind of lovely high-backed leather sports seats that rivals would include only as an exorbitantly-priced option.
Getting comfortable behind the chunky electrically adjustable three-spoke F-branded leather-stitched steering wheel is easy and through it, you view a spectacular instrument panel derived from that used in the brand’s LFA supercar.
Time to move rearwards. This is an Executive-segment BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class-sized model that most users will be considering as an alternative to smaller 3 Series or C-Class performance saloons. If that’s your perspective and you come to this car after experience in the back of an M3 or a C63, you’ll find that the rear of this Lexus feels very spacious indeed.
Finally, let’s take a look out-back. GS F users have to have an electrically-operated bootlid which rises laboriously to reveal a 520-litre space that’s 85-litres bigger than a C63 and 40-literes larger than an M3.
In summary, if you’re in the market for something of this kind, we’d urge you to look beyond the press reports and make your own mind up about this GS F. Let’s be clear: if somebody took us to the Nurburgring and made us choose between these two cars, we’d pick the Mercedes without a second thought. But if we had to drive the model in question every day for a year, there's no way we'd go with the German car - something we never thought we'd be saying before we tried this Lexus. It's old school in feel but new wave in execution. And there has to be room in the market for that combination.